July 16, 2012

Welcome to Motherhood

I have some wise words for you today.  Whitney is sharing some of her insights with you.  I know I will be coming back to this post for encouragement!


Hi! I'm Whitney from Navy Beans. My story? IMG_5582Well, in a nutshell, I'm a Christ-follower, Navy-wife, Mama to 4 little beans. I have 3 girls (6, 4, 3) and 1 son (18 months).
Hopefully my thoughts on new-mama-hood are helpful.... :)

When I was a new Mama....

....I wish I had taken every. single. person. up on their offers for help.  And used that time to either snuggle my String Bean, or sleep.

....I wish I had slept more.

....I wish I had not resented the lack of sleep, lack of space, complete flip-up of my life. I wish that I had realized this phase of utter-exhaustedness was just a phase. And that it would be gone entirely too fast.

....I wish I had sought out help and advice and knowledge about breastfeeding, instead of thinking I would just be able to figure it out on my own.

...I wish I had listened when my Mom told me that I wasn't going to spoil my newborn girl by holding her all the time.  How I regret those moments where I put her down because I thought I should - not because I had no choice.

Now for some un-solicited advice to all you New Mama's out there (I like to think I have the stretch marks to make me credible!)......


I wish I had known the exhausted-beyond-belief-phase would be so brief.

When you are in it, those first 6 weeks are absolute torture.

You don't really sleep. Your body aches. You are mentally and emotionally drained by trying to learn a new human being that only cries. You wonder if you are doing anything right.

Are they eating enough?
Are they eating too much?
Is sleep bad?
What does that cry mean?
and on and on....
You can be plagued with doubt. With fear.

Realize exhaustion is not the end of the world. You will sleep again one day! It just won't happen for about 6 weeks. Not that you will sleep THROUGH THE NIGHT in 6 weeks....but you will either adjust to constantly waking up, or finally get one long stretch of sleep. (Which in newborn world, is about 4 hours.)

I promise you - in just a few short months, you will feel like a pro. Unfortunately, a pro in motherhood does not mean you are an expert. It does not mean you are perfect. It means you love someone more than you thought humanly possible. It means daily living with the needs of someone else before your own. It means constantly going before the Lord and asking Him for wisdom and grace.

Be specific.
This is a pet peeve of mine. When it comes time for people to bring you food - don't say "Oh! We like anything." If, in reality, you hate Mexican food. Because, odds are, you are going to get a whole lotta Mexican dishes. No one wants to put the time and effort into making a meal someone will loathe and/or not eat.  If you are particular, tell people exactly what you like!

You are not being a Diva.
You are being considerate.

Stock up of one-handed snacks
You will be holding a baby, rocking a baby, feeding a baby, diapering a baby, and kissing a baby, all day long. At some point, you need to eat! I buy a pack of large tortilla wraps and load whatever I was planning on eating into that. I have eaten stir-fry, casserole, chicken Cesar salad, (and everything in between!) in a wrap.  I throw a receiving blanket over the baby to catch any falling food, and eat. That way I don't waste time eating, when I could be sleeping! (Straws are actually great too. Less accidental mess on baby.)

Hug and snuggle your baby constantly. Wear them if you can!
I don't know what I would have done without my sling for those first 4 months. I folded laundry, put away groceries, did dishes, shopped, read stories, cleaned the house, went on walks, and even nursed with my sling! It is a life saver. If you have a munchkin who screams like their arms are being ripped off when you put them down - get a sling. Seriously. It often takes 2-3 days for them (and you) to be fully comfortable in it...but it is worth the effort! (I also use the Baby Bjorn and Snugli as they get older)

Seriously, don't sacrifice a chance to sleep. Use paper plates to save time on dishes. Let the house be a bit dirty. Don't go all over the place with the new baby. You need, really NEED, to sleep. So does baby.  You are not being selfish or a wimp. You are being an excellent Mommy.

You are taking care of yourself and your new baby - so take a nap.
Leave the guilt at the hospital.

Drink more water than you thought humanly possible.  Twice. (Especially if you are breastfeeding)


Give your husband your vote of confidence.
He is just as nervous about becoming Daddy as you are about becoming Mommy!
He needs to know you are in his corner. He may will do things differently than you, and that is okay. He may not know all the things you have learned about newborns. Allow your husband the space to learn how to hold your little girl. Enjoy how he communicates with her - he doesn't have to do it like you! They will bond - but most of that depends on you. You need to share what you know in a way that builds him up.  My Love always went with the nurse to observe the first bath - and then when we got home, he taught me how to do it.

Ask for help/take people up on their offers.
One of the most valuable gifts I ever received? Folded laundry.  My Love knew I was overwhelmed when our 3rd was born...

(I mean, I did have a 3 1/2 year old, 19 month old, and a newborn, so that was probably obvious to everyone.)

...so he asked a friend to come help me out. While #3 and I were napping, my friend came in and folded my laundry, washed my dishes, and left dinner cooking on the stove.

I cried like a baby when I woke up.

With my first, I thought I could do it all. So I didn't reach out for help - I didn't ask for it, I didn't accept it - and I greatly regret that decision. It is such an amazing gift to be helped. Assume the person offering actually does WANT to help you! Let them go to the store - run an errand - bring you dinner. There is no shame in needing help.

Ask for help.
Yes, I know I already said this. However, now I'm talking about the really uncomfortable stuff. If you need help with breastfeeding - ASK FOR HELP.  Do not think you are a failure or incompetent. It is hard work. Breastfeeding is a very natural thing - but it does NOT come naturally. It takes a lot of support to be able to succeed. (And if it doesn't work and you end up using formula - you are not a failure then either.)

Ask for help if you are unsure of something with your munchkin - if they aren't sleeping well or spitting up or crying constantly. You are NOT a failure for needing help. EVERY mama needs help with their children! It does get easier as you get to know each other - but seasoned mama's have a larger arsenal of tools than a brand new one. AND they are actually sleeping at night. Seek their advice - you don't have to use it, but it will be so helpful to have.

Cut your body some slack.
You may be one of those rare people who slips out a baby and then *BAM* looks just like your pre-pregnant self. If you are - I may just have to start throwing things at you. If you are like the rest of womankind, be prepared for some serious jiggle. Your body just went through the war...don't expect it to look like your old self right away.  AND THAT IS OKAY. Personally, I avoid full length mirrors for at least 4 weeks after delivery....unless the lighting is really favorable and my milk has completely come in. That is actually not an unappealing silhouette. (This is all coming from a woman who gained a good bit of weight...55/55/35/25....I know about jiggle.) Try to remember that the first 3 months after having a baby - your hard work is not working out. It is learning that person; developing into "Mom;" learning how to breastfeed; understanding how your baby communicates; figuring out how your family works; even how to shower every 24 hours!

You will be able to work out again -
but allow yourself the space to prioritize other things for a little bit.

Above all - cut yourself some slack.
You will not be perfect. You will make mistakes. You will have regrets.  But eventually, all of these anxious moments will melt and you will realize motherhood becomes you.  That doesn't mean you will suddenly be secure in all your decisions - it just means that although you will not always make the right decision, you are always seeking to make the best one possible.

Welcome to motherhood...
the most exhausting, rewarding, challenging, amazing, and refining, role there is.

Copyright 2012


  1. This is a great post! Yeah, those first 6 weeks were intense... but it's gotten so much easier now. I still don't sacrifice sleep, since she sleeps so badly. The only thing I wish I could've done was wear her, but she wasn't having it. I do remember long days of holding her on the couch in a certain position because that was the only way she would sleep and calm down. Lots of TV watching then!

  2. From Poekittens mom - great post have suggested that she print it our and put a copy in every room of the house!! Motherhood is great, however the best job in the world - Nana!! (or Grammy or Mimi) what ever they call us. Munchkin is the most beautiful cuddlebug in the world - from Nana

  3. so glad you liked it. :) hope they are all doing well.

  4. This is awesome advice. I have four children now and agree with every point!

  5. I'm so glad! It is rather daunting to boil it all down to a few succinct points. Are there any things you would add?

  6. Not really. I think you nailed it!


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